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Re: need direction! - migration away from DigiBeta SD

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David Wulzen
Re: need direction! - migration away from DigiBeta SD
on Jun 13, 2008 at 6:20:20 pm

[Before I start, I would cross-post this in both the FCP and Kona forums. There are a lot more, and experienced, minds in both]

Surprisingly enough, I'm in almost the same exact boat as you. I also work for a non-profit with a huge archive of footage, mostly on BetaSP for some of the older material, working up to DigiBeta for the last several years or so. We are slowly working our way into the HD field, emphasis on the slowly...

In our quest to search for the proper HD format to shoot in, for ease of use and relative low cost hardware wise, we have been shooting in Panasonic's P2 format with an HVX-200. Personally this poses a couple issues, especially when it comes to combining the newly acquired HD content with the existing SD material, as well as the matter of archiving. One step at a time though.

I work with FCP, importing through a Kona LHe, which for the most part does everything I need it to do, execept for seamlessly combining HD and SD. I should start off too by saying I don't know the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the Kona IO, but I believe it's in the same boat as the LHe, if not worse off. If you are shooting HD in a P2 format, and want to combine it with SD footage, I have found one viable (and realistic) option, and that involves downconverting your HD content to a Digibeta through a Kona card and then re-capturing it into an SD timeline with your pre-existing SD footage.

Needless to say, this is not ideal. In my situation, we are shooting one to three hour interviews and this is a huge consumer of time when dealing with several of these. Ok, plan two:

Get a Kona 3 card, and upconvert all of your SD footage to match your recently shot HD content. That way you can work natively with P2 material using log and transfer (already a time saver) and you aren't doing mass downconversions to tape. Herein lies the issue though: archiving.

Granted, digital storage is becoming cheaper and cheaper, but on a personal level keeping all of your footage archived in a digital format such as P2, no matter how many different locations you store it, makes me unspeakably nervous. You will find just as many people out there that feel the opposite, but it freaks me out.

Soooo, here's my suggestion, which is the direction I think we are going to head in as well: move to HD Cam, get a Kona 3 card to do up/down/cross conversions across both SD and HD formats, and get a legacy VTR that can play and record HD Cam, as well as do playback of DigiBeta. This is by no means the cheapest way to do things, and will continue to keep costs up since you are not moving in a tapeless direction, however I think it gives you the best of both worlds. And if you do shoot anything in P2, you can still maintain the HD quality (and your peace of mind) by dumping it off to an HD Cam tape for archival purposes.

I hope that this wasn't too longwinded, and if anyone reading this has any input as well, I'm more than happy to hear it. This is only one way of looking at things, and if there is one thing I have learned making the transition to HD is that there are endless combinations depending on your situation.

Good luck and keep me posted!

-David Wulzen
Editor/Assistant Producer, Film and Video
Experience Music Project
Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame
Seattle, WA

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